Showing posts from March, 2014
One of the highlights of any Supernatural convention is, of course, seeing the actors live on stage. They generally do panels, which is con-speak for sitting there with a mic and answering audience questions.

In theory, anyway. Some of these people should not be allowed to run a panel by themselves. A show, sure; a panel, no. Sebastian Roché has the attention span of a fruit fly on meth, and without a babysitter will bounce around and produce a stream of early-Robin-Williams-esque comedy monologue. You can remind him that he's supposed to be doing a Q&A, but unless you're standing right next to him the whole time, it'll go in one ear and out the other.

(Not having a sitter also deprives Roché of one of his favorite things, which is a friend to cheerfully molest. There's a running joke to the effect that the main difference between Roché and Balthasar, the character he plays, is that Roché already speaks French and wouldn't have to ask how you say ménage à '…
...fucking hell, did you guys know there's a 9 a.m. on Saturdays now, too? Of all the things I did not want to verify experimentally. Who thinks this shit up?
Anyway, the reason I'm awake right now is that we have a new roommate, and we were supposed to sign a lease with her this morning. We didn't, of course, because it wasn't ready and the landlady's daughter had no idea what we were talking about, but I got her to take a photocopy of the new tenant's ID as proof that we did show up as promised, and we'll be back to straighten things out Monday.
We're moving Jazmin Firewing into the spare room as soon as we get everything inked. She's the one who gave me a lift from the airport when I first got here, and it's nice that I'm able to do her a favor in return. I also happen to know that she's not a whoremongering smackhead axe-murderer, and is gainfully employed, so there's that.
I've now also taken the trash out, and having accomp…

Weekend Radio Theater: Burns & Allen

Hey, internets! Give me a hand here.

I have a British Airways flight bag -- of the sort they used to give away in First Class, back when airlines were civilized -- that is slightly older than I am. (It's one of these, in fact.) After twenty years of being ignored in an Arizona closet, and fifteen years of constant abuse from me, the shoulder strap has finally died. I've never owned any luggage that was worth enough to replace parts before, and I'd like some advice.

First off, is it worth taking something like this into a repair shop? The zipper is also coming apart and some of the trim is loose, but both of these are things I can fix myself. I've seen notes on Yelp! that some of the local cobblers will only work on leather or canvas shoes; this bag is heavy-gauge vinyl with a fabric finish.

Secondly, if it would be a better (read: cheaper) idea to try fixing it myself, where's a good place to get replacement straps? I don't really care if I can't find one j…
I've been trying to write up notes on Vegascon for days -- less the usual interruptions, and a couple of unusual ones -- and I'm very much afraid it's not going to be what the die-hard fans are hoping for.

See, I have what is evidently the magical power to speak to people who are especially charming, attractive, brilliant, famous, etc., without losing my ever-loving mind. It's not a matter of iron willpower. Whatever gene codes for fear of God, expressed in modern-day America as gibbering in the presence of celebrities, I don't have it.

I get the gibbering; I've said and done plenty of idiot things when in the throes of one of those horrible involuntary brain-destroying crushes, just like everyone else. It happens when you hold someone in high regard, are emotionally invested in getting their regard in return, and fear that you will somehow do something so profoundly moronic they'll decide it's best to avoid you forever more. The process of trying to de…
I should probably start out my con notes by observing that Vegascon was a very, very drunk place.

"Salute to Supernatural" is not a single convention; it's a series of bookings strung across North America. I don't know what the demographics are elsewhere, but the people who showed up to the one in Las Vegas were generally the ones old enough to have fun in the rest of Las Vegas. Almost all of them were over 21, and probably half of them were over 25. Not only were they old enough to buy their own overpriced froot-flavored rum drinks, most of them were old enough to know what would happen when they slammed one, and at what point they should maybe quit doing that. There was lots of cheerful uninhibited yelling, but a pleasant lack of people retching in the bushes off the patio.

Given the general tone on tumblr, I think I expected a lot more shrieky teenagers. Not that the teenagers are bad. My first trip to Vegas for an event was with Mog and our third roommate at the …
So, tumblr kind of broke my sidekick. Moggie warned a few people that she was going to come home from Vegas with some photos, and that they were required to humor her by nodding and smiling when she showed them off. Then she posted ours to tumblr, and as of now, it's got just under 800 notes. And one of the rebloggers translated her caption into Portuguese. She was past confusion and well into giggling hysterically at the insanity of the internet when I pointed that out.

All of the good commentary happens down in the hashtags, Moggie tells me, and in one of them someone's commented on my intro, something like 'haha that's just what misha would want to hear'. Well, yes. That's why I said it. Just because these things are off-the-cuff doesn't mean they're completely random.

First and foremost, I wanted Moggie to not implode. I talk to strangers. My main function when we're together in crowds is to flit forth like a twittery, attention-grabbing canary.…
Allow me to ramble about airport security for a moment.

I'll level with you guys: I don't care about the body scan. I totally understand why other people do, but it doesn't even register with me as an inconvenience. I've looked like this since I was fourteen; I've had a long time to get used to the idea that other people might want to see me naked, and some of them are going to try. I understand that there's no way to stop the really cunning psychopaths, but I don't care how pervy the gate guy is, as long as he's also making a decent effort to make sure I'm not getting on an airplane with some dude who thinks his neighbor's dog told him to board the first Airbus he can find with 37 steak knives and a death wish. More relevantly, I'm also relying on him to make sure some fuckwit doesn't get past with something stupid like a styrofoam cooler full of dry ice that they intend to shove into the overhead bin, whose fumes would provoke widespre…

Weekend Radio Theater: Burns & Allen

Proofs came back.

The bedhead blonde with her watch on the wrong wrist is Moggie. Getting manhandled by Misha would be moi. I am pretty sure this was the ultimate goal of like 95% of people at that convention, so go me.

[Edit: If any of you fandom people want to tumbl this, I don't really hang out there, but it's up on Mog's. Go nuts.]
I am still digging myself out of the pile of things that accumulated while I was AFK for a week, but apparently people are on pins and needles waiting for me to talk about the con. So here's one of the more amusing parts.

I was rather surprised when Moggie told me she'd gotten tickets for one of the photo ops. Normally, Moggie reacts to cameras by turning into Sméagol and scuttling back into her underground lair. I used to drag her on shoots as my assistant and photographers were always trying to talk her into taking a few pictures, and she mainly hid behind the softboxes and pretended not to understand English. I'm still not keen on yobbos with 5MP cell phones, mostly because without makeup I wash out and look funny, but I had plenty of warning to put on some face paint this time, so great.

I also discovered that Moggie was not kidding about being bad at talking to strangers who happen to be on TV. She turned an interesting shade of puce when I summoned her over to chat w…
Hello, all. I am alive. I got in at ungodly o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, spent two hours getting home, had to clean the kitchen before I could manage anything to eat, and promptly crashed out for a long, long time. Then I had to get up to an alarm on Wednesday to take a rat down to Stony Brook again, get her back without losing the poor thing, and then go to work.

Binky is fine, more or less. The vet seemed concerned that her head was still all tilty, but the first time she was there she was so disorientated that she spent the entire time spinning around her long axis in a corner of her box. She did pull a couple of racing swimmer turns this time, but almost all of her escape attempts were upright and on all her little feets. The vet gave me something he says they use for vertigo in rabbits with head-tilt. They were out of the flavor I requested, and they ended up giving the medication to me without it. Binky dislikes Baytril -- probably because rats, like humans, can get qu…

Vegas Hiatus, Day Six: At Least I Get To Fly JetBlue

I'll be back from my trip to Salute to SPN with Moggie today, but God only knows how conscious I'll be and whether I'll be up to wading through my email. In lieu of original intelligent content I may not be able to generate just yet, please accept this humble link in order that you may not be bored to tears at work again.

I'm an aviation geek. I read NTSB reports for fun. Therefore things like FlightRadar24 keep me entertained for hours on end, even if I do have to reload every 30 minutes. Take a look at McCarran -- where I'm coming from -- and Logan International -- where I'll eventually be landing. Both are busy as hell.
Wandering Las Vegas before Moggie takes me back to McCarran and then drives off for home. Posting from the Kindle is kind of a bitch, particularly since the comma is hidden in the symbol menu, but so far this week I have learned the following things:

1. People in Vegas drive just like they do in Phoenix. It makes Moggie really paranoid when the Mustang in front of her casually cruises across four lanes of traffic without using his blinker.

2. You can get decent food on the Strip without mortgaging your soul if you are willing to hike around a while.

3. All the casinos offer free parking.

4. It is entirely possible to get two people AND their luggage into a Miata, but only if you're good at Tetris.

5. Misha is not capable of parenting and finishing his sentences at the same time. His wife will laugh rather than save him.

6. The people at Salute To SPN  are surprisingly reasonable and not shrieky. Meybe not always sane and at least here often rather drunk, but generally apt to stand…

Vegas Hiatus, Day Five: I Bet We've Been To The Porn Museum By Now

I'm in Vegas with Moggie right now, conventioneering and being otherwise nerdy. I'm sure I've already racked up several stories, but you won't know that until I'm back, because I haven't bothered taking a computer. So's you lot won't be bored to tears while I'm gone, have some o' these here links to poke around for the next few days.

I've been reading the Straight Dope books since before I was old enough to get some of the dirtier jokes in them. My parents had what I believe was a full collection at the time -- a few more have been published since. Cecil Adams is a treasure trove of knowledge and snark. The archives will keep you busy for a good long while. And when you run out, there's always the message board.

Vegas Hiatus, Day Four: Hello, Desert Dehydration

Moggie and I are at Salute To Supernatural in Las Vegas right now, and in the interest of not arguing too much with security at Logan, I have taken neither my own shampoo, nor any of my computers. Mog agreed to supply shampoo, as she's driving up from Flagstaff, but as for blogging and email, y'all are on your own. Here's something to listen to while I'm gone.

Everything I know about cars, I got from Top Gear and Car Talk, which is why it's probably a good thing I don't drive. I've been listening to Click & Clack since I was a wee bairn, mainly because my father was a fan of theirs, and both parents are a fan of public broadcasting.

My second day in the Boston area, one of my friends took me down to Harvard Square to meet up with someone. After I managed to get over Harvard Square (mostly; it's still one of my favorite places to hang out), I realized that you can look over from the main entrance to the T and see the window lettering for Dewey, Cheat…

Vegas Hiatus, Day Three: Weekend Radio Theater, Because I'm Lazy

Jack Benny, good friend and frequent costar of the Burnses, both on radio and TV, is hilarious in his own right. His on-air character was famous for being a snarky cheapskate, culminating in the infamous bit:

Mugger: Your money or your life!
Benny: ....
Mugger: Well?
Benny: I'm thinking it over.

"Gracie Wants George To Go On Jack's Show"

"Blackmailing Jack Benny"

"George The Butler"

Vegas Hiatus, Day Two: I'm Probably Already Hungover

I'm currently in Las Vegas with Moggie, attending Salute To Supernatural, because we're social scientists and we can't resist large groups of weird people. She also informs me that we have photo op passes, so at some point I'm going to be within a foot or so of Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins, and there will be documentation of this. In the meantime, please accept this humble link while I am not here to entertain you myself.

Behold,, home of Dr Mark Crislip. Skeptic, geek, and specialist in infectious diseases. Dr Crislip runs a number of distinct podcasts, including:

A Gobbet O' Pus, which consists of short case studies and snarky commentary;Quackcast, which applies what he calls "evidence-based ridicule" to healthcare woo-woo scams;the Puscast, which is mostly-serious fortnightly reviews of the current literature. He's also the author of The Persiflager's Compendium of Infectious Diseases, which is a must-have for an…

Vegas Hiatus, Day One: WHOOOOOO!

By the time you guys read this, I will be in Las Vegas with Moggie. We have agreed that this trip will involve both a lot of alcohol, and a lot of driving around in her new roadster, although not at the same time. All my luggage is going with me in the cabin, so I've opted not to add another 5 lbs to my load by taking a computer. Since I won't be around to entertain you in person, please accept this humble offer of random internet things to peruse in my absence.

True to the channel name, danisnotonfire is about Dan, who is not on fire. Much. He is the world's most cheerful emokid, though. And apparently keeps his apartment impeccably clean, or at least the parts of his apartment in camera range. Highlights include pancakes, his monologues about getting fired, and the fact that he compensates for his total inability to keep his skinny jeans up even with a belt by buying decorative underpants.
Since I'm on the topic of throwing weights around, I thought I'd take a hoop with me to the studio yesterday. I bought one of the things quite a while ago, and being used to hula hoops being $4.99 pieces of slave-labor constructed crap, I thought I massively overpaid for it at the time. It turns out that large-diameter hoops that break down for travel can be north of $70, depending on size, so $19.95 at Marshall's was just short of stealing it. This one's about three feet in diameter -- large enough for me to use as an ersatz jump rope without whanging myself in the back of the head constantly.

I'd forgotten that it's quite heavy for a hoop. I look like a kidnapped princess now -- big stripes of amorphous bruise around my midsection right about at prime tentacle-wrapping height, and some interesting blotches on my hands and forearms, from rolling the hoop around my wrists. Whoops. I felt it roll over bone a few times, but I didn't realize it was quite that …

Weekend Radio Theater: Burns & Allen

I don't like not knowing why I like things any more than I like not knowing why I dislike things, so I've been going through YouTube again. I've come to the conclusion that most of the reason I like Stéphane Lambiel so much is that he doesn't really skate like a guy.

Mind you, he doesn't skate much like a girl, either. Female figure skaters suffer from a lot of the same things that irk me about ballerinas, like intense pressure to weigh nothing, and an insistence that their image be scrubbed clean of all suggestions of maturity or sex.

(Not that the men aren't sniped at for their weight. Brian Boitano is kind of infamous for getting really stabbity at people who bugged him about it when he was younger. He's nearly six feet tall, and he had judges suggesting he lose yet more weight even after he was down to what he considered his razor-thin Olympic fighting form. Given that he is the only male skater I've heard this about, I'm thinking that the young…
I've been thinking about ballet. I don't like disliking things without being able to articulate why, especially when it's so clearly a matter of opinion. I mean, no one really likes serial spree murders, but lots of people like ballet, so obviously this is not something of unmitigated horror.

I took ballet classes until I was maybe ten, and then I put my foot down and refused to do anymore. Even my mother wasn't going to pay for something I wouldn't attend, and I was fine with taking tap and jazz lessons, so there was only a little bit of a fight. I remember being some combination of bored and frustrated. Frustrated because there was obviously something I wasn't getting, because I felt constantly corrected for things I couldn't even see, and bored because they wouldn't explain it any other way or let me switch to something I had a better grip on so I could make some sort of progress.

Ballet is, in large part, an art of control. The strength and balance …
All right: Spins.

First off, you cannot really do skating spins on a dance floor. Quite. The most I can do with sit spins is try to balance myself while stationary, which doesn't work as well as you'd hope. A lot of positions are much more stable while spinning, primarily because the direction in which you topple over is defined relative to you, and not relative to the surface you're spinning on. Rotate fast enough, and you stay upright quite literally because you don't have enough time to finish falling over in any one direction. Friction and a lack of starting velocity kill your chances for this one. Camel spins are similarly impractical.

Standing spins are easier. If you can pirouette on floor, you can at least kind of gauge how you'd perform basic one- and two-foot spins, scratch spins, and corkscrew or crossfoot spins. It's slower than it would be on ice, and you can't keep the rotation going long enough to get into some of the fancier positions, but y…
Bianca has now been all the way down to Jamaica Plain and survived. She was awake the whole time, not for lack of trying -- she spent the first twenty minutes of the trip trying to beat the box open with her head. Binky does not like buses, or trains, although she seems okay with walking, even when it's 19°F outside, as long as she's in a box full of fabric stuffed into a tote bag.

She only freaked out a little while we were at the MSPCA, mainly because she didn't know where she was. The vet confirmed what I rather suspected, which is that she's functionally if not completely blind, which is not unusual for albino rats. They have no pigment in their irises at all, and some badly-defective visual receptors; bright light causes irreversible retinal degeneration, and it's generally figured that their eyes deteriorate into uselessness a few weeks after they open for the first time. Yuki and Edelweiß seem to be able to see things that they're about to smack into, bu…
Every so often, I find tea on sale and decide I should really try some again. I tend to not like tea that tastes like tea; mainly, I drink things like Thai iced tea and chai lattes, which are so full of cloves and milk and sugar that if you forgot the actual tea leaves nobody would ever notice. The grocery store had Twinings on sale, so I picked up some ultra-spice chai, which is perfectly fine, and some rooibos, which is not.

Rooibos is actually some sort of reddish bush that grows in South Africa, which I presume they started brewing because in the olden days schlepping Darjeeling down there was even more of a bitch than shipping it to England. I can't drink the Twinings stuff.

I'm heavily cross-wired, including a lot of assorted synaesthesiae. I don't have the cool grapheme → color ones, and I'm light on the sound → (color, movement) stuff, but I do have a lot of the numeric → spatial varieties. I also have some completely random ones, which bend heavily towards the…
Radiolab's podcast for last Tuesday, when I was dragging a rat out to Allston in vain, was an interesting little piece called "What's Left When You're Right?" The whole thing's worth listening to, if you're the sort who likes interesting little thought problems with some entertaining background, but the last segment, "What's Right When You're Left?", about an inexperienced boxer foolishly trying his first fight against a southpaw, got me thinking.

Humans are pretty definite about having a preferred hand. The phenomenon is generally called 'laterality', and it occurs in more than just human handedness, both in the sense that humans also tend to have a dominant eye, ear, leg, etc., and in that other animals show a preference for handedness. I don't have a full list of "handed" species, but the Radiolab guys mention that macaws are about 90% left-taloned -- exactly the opposite of humans -- and rats are generally known…
One of my friends posted one of those unofficial internet IQ tests on Facebook a while ago. He got a ludicrously high number -- totally not surprised at that, he's practically the poster boy for ADHD genius. He gets particularly Sherlocky when drunk, as it makes him slow the fuck down. I have a long, proud history myself of taking those things at parties, when I'm completely obliterated. I consistently test out at 140 when I've had so many daiquiris I'm leaning my head on my hands and reading the screen with one eye closed to make the cursor stop wobbling.

I know a lot of people who do this, and the reason we take it about as seriously as your average OK Cupid quiz is that scores in this range are meaningless. Anything over two standard deviations -- 130, give or take about five points, depending on which IQ test you're using -- essentially just equates to "thar be smarts". There's no particularly good agreement on where the cutoff for "genius&qu…